Where have Russians been on vacation since the Ukraine war started

There was a time when Western Europe was the most popular destination for Russian tourists.

But everything has changed.

Max, a Russian in his 40s, used to stroll in museums in France, enjoy fine food in Italy and hike in the hills in Spain.

afterward Russia Invades Ukraine. This year, Max, who told CNBC he’s uncomfortable sharing his last name, “doesn’t even consider” Europe a vacation destination.

“I am aware of the problems in getting visas to European countries,” he said.

Last week, the European Union agreed suspension of the 2007 travel agreement with Moscow This has facilitated the issuance of visas to Russians. This move will make travel for Russians more difficult and expensive.

In the future, when Putin leaves and we become a normal country again, I hope that I will be able to visit Europe again.

The closure of EU airspace to Russian airlines in February also made travel difficult.

The bad irony is that I am completely opposed to war and Putin, but I also have difficulty walking,” Max said.

“In the future, when Putin leaves and we return to a normal country, I hope that I will be able to visit Europe again. I love Italy very much.”

Fewer and fewer Russians in Europe

Max is one of many Russians who have traded European holiday destinations for other countries this summer.

EU countries like Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Greece were among the top 20 most booked destinations by Russian tourists before the outbreak of war, according to data from ForwardKeys, a travel data company.

According to ForwardKeys data, EU countries such as Italy, Spain, Cyprus and Greece were among the top 20 most booked destinations by Russian tourists before the outbreak of war.

Francesco Riccardo Iacomino | Moment | beautiful pictures

However, Olivier Ponti of ForwardKeys said that Russian air travel to Europe during the summer was only 26% of what it was in 2019.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has certainly limited the choice of holiday for Ukrainians, as direct flights to many popular destinations have been banned,” he said. “Russians can still visit Europe, but now they need to change planes in places like Istanbul or Dubai.”

Where are the Russians going?

According to ForwardKeys, which examined incoming flight data, several leisure destinations saw an increase in Russian visitors in June, July and August every year compared to 2019.

  1. Maldives (up 5%)
  2. Seychelles (4%)
  3. Turkey (4%)
  4. United Arab Emirates (2%)

Most of those countries were popular with Russian tourists before the war. According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), Turkey was the top destination for Russian tourists in 2019, followed by the Russian-occupied Abkhazia, UAE and Maldives.

Analysts from the EIU told CNBC that the Maldives has long been a favorite destination for wealthy Russians, who can easily apply for a tourist visa on arrival for stays of up to 90 days.

The number of Russian tourists to Europe fell during the summer, but increased in the Maldives, a favorite vacation spot for the country’s wealthy citizens.

Nicolas Economou | Nurphoto | beautiful pictures

EIU analysts Mario Bikarski and Federica Reccia told CNBC that a more favorable exchange rate in Turkey since mid-March will likely boost visitor numbers there. The Turkish lira currently stands at 18.23 against the dollar—near a record low after the Turkish central bank cut its benchmark rate in August despite nearly 80% inflation.

However, Russians’ ability to travel could be further restricted, they said. In addition to the EU suspending its 2007 preferential visa agreement with Moscow, Bikarski and Reccia said, economic problems could make Russians reluctant to travel, Bikarski and Reccia said.

“As the war goes on, we also look forward to economic outlook deteriorates to consider Russian travel trends. “

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